Nationally recognized food surveys, such as the National Food Consumption Survey and the National Health and Nutrition Survey, indicate that Americans consume somewhere between 34 and 37 percent of their calories from fat.1 Americans are still eating a very high fat diet. The reason for the rise in obesity in America is no mystery: we eat a high-calorie, high-fat diet. We are eating more meals outside the home, relying more heavily on convenience foods, and consuming larger food portions. Consistent with trends in weight, caloric intake rose 15 percent between 1970 and 1994.2 The data actually shows increased consumption of junk food, fat, and calories in recent years.3And as we know, this stuff has infiltrated our schools; vending machines, tatter tots, and ice cream. But lately, there’s been a concerted to straighten up our school cafeterias. So, how’s it going? Andrew Martin of The New York Times investigates the state of school food:
Weight has increased in America simply because total calorie consumption has risen and activity or exercise has fallen. Our diets are more nutrient-deficient than ever.
Food and beverage companies have scrambled to offer healthier alternatives in school cafeterias and vending machines, and some of the changes have been met with a shrug by students. The whole-wheat chocolate-chip cookies? “Surprisingly, the kids have kind of embraced them,” said Laura Jacobo, director of food services at Woodlake Union schools in California.Here’s a question. Why do birthdays have to be associated with sweet treats and other junk food? I don’t know, I’m not a parent. Maybe if kids were learning good eating habits at home, they wouldn’t be tempted by the junk at school. Check out these tips from Disease-Proof Your Child:
But some parents say that by cracking down on cupcakes in the classroom to celebrate birthdays and Halloween, school officials have crossed a line.
On top of the practical question of how PTAs and drill teams can raise the money that will no longer be earned with bake sales, there is a matter closer to the heart, where the cupcake holds strong as a symbol of childhood innocence and parental love.
“I remember growing up and a birthday party was a big deal when you got to bring a treat,” said Amy Joswick, who has two children in elementary school in Old Bridge, N.J., where cupcakes are not allowed at birthday parties. “I don’t agree with it because as a whole, parents should be monitoring what they are eating. It should start at home.”
Parents in Texas lobbied to get a “Safe Cupcake Amendment” added to the state’s nutrition policy. The measure, which passed, ensures that parents may bring frosted treats to schools for celebrations.
1. Keep only healthy food in the house. Every person in the household should have the same food choices available.1. Beyers, T. 1993. Dietary trends in the United States. Relevance to cancer prevention. Cancer 72 (3 supp.) 1015–18; Lenfant, C., and N. Ernst. 1994. Daily dietary fat and total food-energy intake — Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, phase 1, 1988–91. MMWR 43 (7): 116–17, 123–25.
2. Offer and feed a wholesome diversity of natural foods, vegetables, beans, raw nuts, seeds, and fresh fruit, while giving each child as much latitude as possible to eat what they prefer.
3. Don't attempt to manage your children's caloric intake. They can do that on their own.
4. If you, as parents, do not demonstrate proper respect for your own bodies by eating healthy, exercising regularly, and engaging in other healthful lifestyle practices, don't expect your children to do any better than you, now or in the future.
5. Educate your children about their nutritional needs and the importance of eating healthfully. Start this when they are young and continue to reinforce their learning, as they will be exposed to more toxic food choices as they get older and spend more time out of their home.
2. Harnack, L. J., R. W. Jeffrey, and K. N. Boutelle. 2000. Temporal trends in energy intake in the United States: an ecological perspective. Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 71 (6): 1478–84.
3. Kennedy, E. T., S. A. Bowman, and R. Powell. 1999. Dietary-fat intake in the U.S. population. J. Am. Coll. Nutr. 18 (3): 207–12; Kant, A. K. 2000. Consumption of energy-dense, nutrient-poor foods by adult Americans: nutritional and health implications: Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 1988–94. Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 72 (4): 929–36.